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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 21, 2013


Another possible solution to nation’s health care issue

Replacing Obamacare with a single-payer system of medicine as Gary Dielman advocates seems like a good idea. Medicine for profit will lead to abuse by the insurance companies — and by the MDs themselves, as they are after all human too. How many ineffective or damaging therapies and procedures have we seen phased out slowly so that we might not notice it? And we must wonder how many are still in place. I recently tried to get access to the OHSU medical library to try to clear up some medical matters and was told that I would need to be appointed to the medical faculty to receive online library privileges. This is a library system paid for with my tax dollars! Which brings up why a single-payer system wouldn’t work in our current top-down political system: collusion between the medical system and government, as well as the influence of drug companies.

In 1983 when I started working in hospitals, the government tried to introduce Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs) a scheme to fix payments for any particular condition. If a hospital could direct treatment successfully for less, they would pocket the difference and standard reimbursements could then be whittled down. The doctors, administrators and insurance companies killed that one in a hurry! It would have been an example of how, with intelligent and responsible government oversight, medicine-for-profit could work. (There is also the matter of how under the present system, one can patent anything that works — including drugs — but not medical therapies.)

The solution I am proposing is a mixed one. The government would determine a reasonable payment for each diagnosis, subject to adjustment based upon details of the case. The patient would then be free to go to any provider that would accept that reimbursement (voucher) amount. The government would also offer an option of free medical service and hospitalization, manned by licensed personnel. Thus an open for-profit system and a socialized system would be in direct competition. The result, I am sure, would be a dramatic reduction in the overall cost of effective medical care.

R. Mack Augenfeld

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Oct. 18, 2013


Baker City Senior Center is truly a special place

The recent letter from Ramona and John Creighton was right on. I would like to add my story.

My late husband, Leo, and I began visiting the Senior Center in 1980 or so, when it was housed in the Extension Building. Leo soon joined the Buddy Band which played for every dance or function requiring music until he had to put away his beloved saxophones about 1998. Leo decorated the hall for every holiday or occasion. I handed him ribbons, pins or tape. Leo was president of the Baker County Seniors for several years. He passed away June 6, 2003.

In 1982, Peggi Timm asked me to be treasurer of the Seniors. I have carefully accounted for every penny — even those found in the pockets of donated clothing or on the pavement of the parking lot. I have asked numerous people if they would like the job. Answers have ranged from “Oh, I don’t think so” to “Hell no!” I’ll carry on as long as I can.


Letter to the Editor for Oct. 16, 2013


Replace Obamacare? Yes, but with single-payer system

Letter writer Pete Sundin and Republicans in Congress do not like Obamacare. Yet Sundin and the Republicans offer no solution for fixing what the U.S. presently has: the most expensive and yet ineffective health insurance system among the world’s First World countries.  

Our counterparts in Canada and Europe provide health insurance for ALL of their citizens at almost a THIRD less cost and get better results. Why do I emphasize “third?” Because that is the profit raked off the top by extremely inefficient, profit-minded insurance companies, before they pay a dime for your medical care.

Get rid of private insurance companies and replace them with a government-run, single-payer system and what do you have? Medicare! Take a poll of Americans and ask them if they want to get rid of Medicare, which manages the health insurance of our senior citizens with a 4 percent overhead, as opposed to the corporate insurance industry’s 30-plus percent. Only Tea Party types would advocate turning over Medicare to private insurance.

Obamacare has its flaws — the biggest one being it’s not a single-payer system — but at least it does not leave uncovered 30 million of our poorest citizens in this most affluent country in the world.  And under Obamacare insurance companies may not turn anyone down for pre-existing health problems.  

Better than playing political brinkmanship, why don’t Democrats and Republicans in Congress get behind a single-payer system?

For a good discussion of single-payer health insurance, go to this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_health_care

Gary Dielman

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Oct. 11, 2013


A majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare

Obamacare is at the center of the current Congressional impasse. Republicans have voted to defund it; Democrats refuse to do so. Let’s take a look at the short history of this issue.

In 2008, the American people gave the presidency and control of Congress to the Democrats so they would move the country out of the morass of the Great Recession. Instead, they passed an ineffective stimulus package loaded with political pork, then spent months wrestling with health care. And instead of reducing the amount of governmental meddling in the health care market, they engineered the governmental takeover of one-sixth of the American economy.

No Congressman had read all the bill’s 2000+ pages. Nancy Pelosi famously said, “Let’s pass it so we can see what’s in it.” There was chicanery in its final passage. No Republicans voted for it.

At the time, a majority of Americans were opposed to Obamacare, and in November 2010, voters gave their opinion of Democratic husbandry with a Republican romp, both at the federal and state levels. Obamacare would never have been passed by the next Congress.

Obamacare was supposed to make health care more affordable. But it was never explained how the same government that pays $500 for hammers and suffers billions annually in Medicare fraud was somehow going to run health care efficiently and economically. And indeed, the reverse has been true. Americans now suffer from annual double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums. Many small companies find that they no longer can afford to provide health insurance for their employees.

Federal employees want no part of Obamacare; they prefer their existing health care plans. Labor unions worked hard for its passage, but now they line up seeking exemptions from it. If Obamacare is so wonderful, why do these highly Democratic groups avoid it like the plague?

Most polls show that a majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare. Yet Senate Democrats are adamant; they will not give an inch. President Obama vows a presidential veto. Democrats insist on imposing on the American people this unpopular, expensive monstrosity of a program, Obamacare.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

City Council urges renewal of downtown economic district

Baker City has begun the process to renew the Economic Improvement District in our downtown community.

Since the early 1980s, much work has been done to create an attractive commercial area that entices people to visit and do business. We have seen a great deal of success since those efforts began. With the initial implementation of the Economic Improvement District, we were able to leverage community monies to encourage millions of dollars in private investment. If the Economic Improvement District had not been in place, our downtown community would not have had the dedicated resources needed to make so many of our wonderful improvements that have happened.

Property and business owners will once again consider the renewal of the Economic Improvement District. We urge our fellow citizens to support this renewal. Let’s keep our downtown community vibrant and healthy for generations to come.

Richard Langrell

Baker City mayor

Clair Button

Mike Downing

Dennis Dorrah

Barbara Johnson

Kim Mosier

Roger Coles

Baker City Council members


Letters to the Editor for Oct. 9, 2013


Republican Party lacking true statesmen

The Herald’s political cartoon on Sept. 30 offers a good look at the state of today’s Republican Party, which is “stuck on (Senator Ted) Cruz control” as it drives our nation off a cliff in pursuit of unattainable ideological goals.  Thanks to right-wing extremists, a manufactured state/fiscal crisis two or three times a year has become the new normal. 

Senate Democrats and President Obama would be foolhardy to give in to unbridled, extortionist GOP demands.  The fiscal year 2014 United States Budget has already been taken hostage in a futile attempt to overturn the law of the land.  The likely next threat is even bigger.  Failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 will shake global financial markets, which rely on both U.S. Treasuries as one of the major sources of funding, and the U.S. dollar to conduct global transactions. Our once-proud nation could well be driven to its knees.  

Should a statesmanlike choice be made, the House leadership and moderate House Republicans could actually join with House Democrats to pass a “clean” budget resolution and end the impasse right now.  But there may be no room left for real statesmen and statesmanship in today’s GOP. 

What the Herald’s political cartoon does not explicitly show is the Republican House majority leadership, including Representative Greg Walden, cowering in fear at right-wing threats.  On one hand, there are tea party extremists within their own ranks who threaten to strip them of their leadership jobs if they attempt to compromise with Democrats. On the other hand, they face wealthy ultra-conservatives, like the Club for Growth, who threaten to fund primary-election challenges against Republicans who fails to toe the tea party line.

New polls indicate that House Republicans may lose their majority status in the next election as a result of their current actions. But that’s over a year away.  Maybe we can change the game now.  My fellow readers, please contact Rep. Walden, urging him to rise up and put the country first, and use his House leadership position to avert the severe damage that otherwise appears imminent.                                    

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Senior Center is a gem that’s open to everyone

Why I go to the Senior Center?

I guess the question should be why I didn’t go sooner.

My husband and I had retired and were doing the long-needed remodel on our kitchen. Food was getting to be a hassle so we decide to try the Senior Center. As we drove up we both looked at each other like really we are not ready to be in an old folks’ dining room.

To our surprise the group was a variety of ages laughing, having fun and enjoying life. The low price of the meals shocked us and the company was upbeat and interesting. We enjoyed ourselves so much we still go at least three times a week. I can’t cook a meal for what I get at the Senior Center.

But lunch isn’t the only thing they offer.

Join them for a large variety of activities. Line dancing, exercise group, tai chi, foot clinic, bingo, pool, books you can borrow. Don’t forget our best-kept secret is the clothing closet that has quality clothes for low prices.

But most of all it is about the people. They have great stories and boy do they know their history. Their stories make Eastern Oregon come alive for me.

Stop in, pick up a menu, meet new friends. Don’t let the word “senior” scare you — all ages are welcome.

The two of us are grateful for this rare gem in Baker City.

Ramona and John Creighton

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Oct. 7, 2013


Shoot out some car tires

All afternoon today we were barraged by news people telling us how marvelously well trained the capitol police and the other police officers were who reacted to the fuss today near the U.S. Capitol.  If they are so well trained, why didn’t they do the right thing?  What was the right thing?  The right response would have been to stop waving their guns around so much and shoot out some tires on the woman’s car. 

Carl R. Kostol

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Oct.4, 2013

Demand law banning pit bulls

There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming outrage over the pit bull death of a young boy. I blame it on the apathy drugs the government has been putting in the water. There seems to be no other explanation. 

When I was growing up on the farm it was understood that if a dog even nipped a child someone was going to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. The Oregonian refers to the differences between how things are handled as the urban/rural divide.

About 10 or 12 years ago, after a rash of pit bull attacks, there were attempts to ban them is some states and cities. They got it done in some places. In others the airheads prevailed and assured us that not all pit bulls are evil. It is only the way they were raised and you can’t judge all pit bulls by what a few outlaws do and all that — the kind of thinking you get from those with hearts bigger than their brains. 

The best example of this was the ones who were going to rescue and rehabilitate Michael Vic’s fighting pit bulls. Some lucky dad, mom or grandpa is going to get one of these rehabs as a neighbor and will have to keep the children indoors. The press was glad to cover the rescue and rehab but I wonder if any of those rescued psycho mutts have killed any children. 

I wrote my letters to the editor. I testified in front of the City Council and urged the County Commission to ban the breed. No takers. No guts. What I said was going to happen did happen. If things follow the usual route, on Halloween night with kids congregated along Main Street there will be a couple of jackasses with some 60-pound pits on leashes in the middle of the kids. 

Enough. I call on the men of this county to get in front of the County Commission and City Council to demand they pass laws to ban these monsters. If the County Commission won’t then there is the initiative petition route.

Steve Culley

Richland

 

Pit bulls should be banned

Baker City has suffered, to my knowledge, two recent attacks by pit bulls. In one, an adult was seriously injured; in the second, a small child was tragically  murdered. Like so many others I was saddened and heart-sick at the loss of the child’s life and outraged at the suffering he experienced during the attack. 

My deepest sympathies go to the family at their loss in the wake of this unjustified death of their child. 

It is inexcusable to allow as dangerous a breed as a pit bull to reside anywhere within the city; anywhere near small children. Even more inexcusable are the comments in defense of the breed following the death of the child. 

No expression of remorse was forth-coming. How dare these individuals stand to the defense of a genetically engineered killing machine at this time immediately after this killing?

Examine the facts: Proportionally and historically small dogs have a higher rate of biting than larger dogs (USPS). Attacks by dogs are generally shows of aggression without a bite. Most dogs after connecting with a bite will break off and move away. 

Pit bulls will not usually disengage without a strong response and have been shown to ignore pepper-spray and even having bones broken with a baseball bat. Killing the dog on the spot has proven successful in many cases. These are animals that once started are very difficult to stop, and therein lies the problem. Adults have been mauled to death by pit bulls, what chance does a child have?

Worse yet, all this is well known and documented. Yet the best the pit bull lovers can offer is strident yet vague defense of the breed. Sounds pretty delusional to me.

I believe the city should enact an ordinance banning pit bulls from residing within the city limits and require caged transport for the animals when passing through the city. The same ordinance should also rescind the state’s one-bite exemption specifically as it relates to pit bulls. They are an established danger to the community. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

Raymond Reinks 

Baker City


Letter to the Editor Oct. 2, 2013

Promote congressional career for your kids

Attention Parents: “Encourage” your children to become members of Congress! It’s the only vocation where you still get paid for walking out on the job.

Karen Lewis

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Sept. 27, 2013

Treatment for addiction can be hard, but it works

Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.  September is National Recovery Month and New Directions Northwest would like to send congratulations to all of you who are in recovery for substance misuse and abuse. This year’s theme for National Recovery Month is “Join the Voices for Recovery:  Together on Pathways to Wellness.” Recovery may not always be easy but it is worth it, it works, and it is possible. Baker County has a generous network of persons in recovery who support people during the journey through recovery. 

Addicts and alcoholics can become recovering addicts and alcoholics by seeking help, and  knowing where and how to find resources. Research has found most people who are in recovery have been through a treatment program.  Research has also found that 90 percent of those attending outpatient treatment and recovery meetings are able to maintain sobriety for extended periods of time, if not indefinitely. Lifestyle changes and supportive environments also significantly increase rates of sustained recovery.  

This year’s theme for National Recovery Month encompasses the notion that there are many unique ways people embark on their journey to recovery. Recovery from substance misuse and abuse is possible and New Directions Northwest, Inc. celebrates those in recovery as well as those who have helped them achieve success. To find out more about how you can begin living a healthy lifestyle or for more support in maintaining your recovery contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , 541-523-8364 or 541-519-5559.

Heather Cromwell

Baker County Prevention Coordinator

New Directions Northwest, Blue Mountain Addictions Program


Letters to the Editor for Sept. 25, 2013


Crossroads special section is a keeper

History, fond memories, hard work, community involvement, money, money, money! Lisa Britton put it all together in the Crossroads special section in last Friday’s paper.

 I’m not surprised when Lisa is the one doing it. Besides being a talented writer, she knows how to listen to others.

 My only concern is how to preserve this special section — I know it will not go into my recycling pile!

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Town deer are a joy to watch, and protect

Well it’s not uncommon to see mature mule deer in many or most Eastern Oregon towns. I took photographs on Sept. 20 in Baker of two bucks, one three-point and one four-point, that have rubbed summer velvet off and are now hard horn. Antler is the fastest-growing hair of animals or any beings that grow facial or body hair.

Bucks of this size are 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-year-old deer that would be considered trophies nowadays in Oregon where deer and elk numbers are low. It is well-known in the world of professional hunters, guides and taxidermists that 70 percent of the game is taken by 30 percent of the sportsmen, pretty much every year. The well-seasoned and top hunters have many years of experience and take the hunt experience very serious, and pass up small forked horn and even small three-point bucks in lieu of a respectable four-point or better trophy.

In the western states bucks’ antler points are only counted on one side, whereas in the East all points on both sides are counted. Overall scoring of a large buck or bull for Boone and Crockett rifle hunters or Pope and Young archery is a detailed and precise measuring process. This is done in inches and fractions by an official of these two respected institutions.

The taking of truly large, heavy horned trophies is very difficult, and in the upcoming fall buck season, true hunters work hard and travel to the higher elevations in the mountain ranges of our region. These true hunters also take proper care of the meat and know what they are doing. To waste such delectable wild game is not only against the game laws, but that of nature herself.

So these town deer are not only safe to stay where they are and enjoy parts of your garden, they are a joy to watch and to protect our future deer populations.

Jim Smeraglio

Baker City


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